After the success of their releases, You Don’t Love Me Anymore and I Am Here, Brisbane’s The Wicked Messenger are excited to share their intimate and moving debut album, Bellbird Grove. Their new leading single Roll Call, shines a light on what the duo does best, sharing stories that deeply resonate with listeners. Recorded in 2020 amongst the tranquillity of Brisbane’s Mt Nebo, the roots-driven duo created a signature sound alongside producer Jamie Trevaski in his home studio, Wild Mountain Sound.
Formed by Jimi Beavis and Janey Mac, the pair’s individual accolades have reached music industry heights. Known for his involvement in soul group The Holy Rollercoasters, Beavis has performed at leading Australian festivals including Woodford Folk Festival and Blues on Broadbeach. Meeting partner and duo member, Mac during her involvement with Good Ship, who supported international folk group The Lumineers in 2014 and toured Canada.
We’re so delighted to bring you this exclusive track by track, as Beavis talks us through each individual track: the creation, sentiment, and everything in between.
You Don’t Love Me Anymore
The first single for the album and definitely the most country, this was a song I had left over from a decade or so ago but the shifting changes in whatever we have been listening to has breathed life into it. The call and response between Chris on his Tele and Ben Franz’s pedal steel is my favourite part.
Just One Kiss
What do you do when you have depression and you meet someone and they do too? Write a song about it. And Chris added a lovely little bit of Neil Young as well!
When You Were Drunk
Sometimes you say things you don’t mean when you are drunk and sometimes you say things you wish you hadn’t said. This is mostly made up. Possibly the first appearance of cats in my songs, so thanks Little Walter for inspiring me (Little Walter our cat, not the blues harmonica player who inspired the name of our cat).
I was trying to write a Paul Kelly song, and used his way of mentioning name and places. It is about watching people at your own funeral, but it is actually a bit uplifting. You can dance to it and I get to play harmonica again. I wrote it the morning after Janey graduated from being a registrar, in a cafe in Broadbeach. Later that day, I saw Hayes Carll and Kinky Friedman play in Woolloongabba. It was a different time.
Scatter The Stones
Janey doesn’t want me to tell you I wrote the first verse while sitting on the toilet. I usually write in stories but I liked the stripped back symbolism of Bill Callahan, so I was trying something different. I really like Chris’ guitar in this, kind of like water pouring, Gary’s drums sound amazing and Andrew’s Wurlitzer is mwah.
Gonna Love You Right Now
Sometimes you see the end of a relationship but you aren’t quite ready to leave it. I find this hard to practice due to the weight of the words but the room goes quiet at gigs when I play it.
You Were Asleep
I think this is my favourite song on the album? Certainly to record anyway. It is a big old slow burner that we just kept adding to. I added some wine glass playing, which justifies all those times playing it at dinner in restaurants and Janey was embarrassed. Anyway Jamie did something amazing in the mixing booth to that and the band sound great, including me trying to emulate a sound I became obsessed with in Nick Cave’s Magneto. Janey and I sing the middle section together and it is lovely. It is really about after being with Janey for a while, realising I was very comfortable to be with her for a lot longer. She also used to do that with her hand when she fell asleep, put it on my head.
Darling You’re Enough
The most recent song on the album – written in 2019. The earliest song was Just One Kiss from about 2009. Anyway, it is a tiny snapshot of us, with Janey playing multi-tracked saw, then Jamie deleted the saw tracks and kept the reverb only. I think it’s very nice.
My Love For You
When two friends drift apart. We love Low and I worried for a long time it was a bit of a rip-off but we ended up with something that is closer to us, especially with Cathy’s violin and Andrew’s organ which takes it closer to Americana. Another that builds on a very simple premise and gets bigger and bigger. I think it is Janey’s favourite.
It’s A Little Closer
A song that I never quite worked out how to play but recorded it anyway, complete with the bellbirds. It was very hot and Jamie didn’t have air con in the studio so the bellbirds were picked up in the mic. We could have taken them out but we liked it. I recorded it by myself in peak bushfire season and then we kept adding to it as we went on.
Stuck In A Basement
When Andrew and I started our other band The Holy Rollercoasters, we were searching for songs and lyrics we already had so we could build our repertoire. Andrew had the music and I had some lyrics, inspired by a Rimbaud poem and the Paris shootings. We did just one take and this is it, and then later Andrew thought bass clarinet would sound good and so he recorded that and we added it in.
I Am Here
We have two cats, both named after musicians: Little Walter after the great blues harmonica player and Little Tweedy after Jeff Tweedy. Little Tweedy was sitting on the couch when I was stressed about completing a big administrative part of my job as a teacher, when I had to compile student work so the QCAA could check the students received the correct marks. That’s a bit boring to write a song about so I wrote about one of those fears we all have – what do you do if your partner dies? My answer: take comfort in wine and cats.
Listen to the album below!